I have wanted to do an interview with Julie Ann Taylor for sometime now, but in recent months I have been so busy interviewing other voice talent, that I simply did not have the time. When I picked up the Paradise Kiss DVD from Geneon, and heard Mrs. Taylor voicing the female lead, Yukari Hayasaka, I said to myself, “I think its time I contact her for an interview.”

I have been a huge fan of Mrs. Talyor’s work for quite sometime now, so I went into this interview with a very decent amount of knowledge on her career as a voice actress. I have enjoyed the many roles she has played over the years, but her performance as Yukari in Paradise Kiss was simply breath taking, and I can say with confidence, that this was one of the best individual English dub performances I have ever heard! Need I say more? Now onto the interview.


FFOmake: Mrs. Taylor, I have had the privilege of hearing quite a bit of your voice work over the years. I think the first two anime titles I heard you in were Vandread, in which you played Meia and in Love Hina as the voice behind Mutsumi Otohime. You have also voiced Moe in Risky Safety, Sophia Forrester in Last Exile, Ai Tanabe in Planetes and Lioubov Smettana in Overman King Gainer; I have watched all these shows and really enjoyed your work on them. You have obviously played a variety of different characters throughout your career as a voice actress. Can you please pick one or two characters you have voiced in the past and share with us some of your thoughts about them? Like how was your experience voicing a particular character for example? Or did you find you shared things in common with a character you played?

Julie Ann Taylor:
I have been really fortunate to work with so many talented people in my career who have cast and directed me in some really cool shows.

One of my favorite roles was playing Sophia Forester in Last Exile. The show itself was beautifully animated and the music superb. Up until then, I hadn’t played many regal, intelligent women-- I was mostly cast in teenage roles, characters that had a certain naiveté to them. Playing Sophia proved to be a challenge. I had to slow down my normal pace and rely on my stage background to help ground me in that character. Eric Sherman, who directed the show, also helped bring forth my performance as Sophia. My favorite scene from Last Exile is from Episode 16: Breakthrough, where Sophia confronts her father and he locks her up in a jail cell. The way it was written and the formal tone came across as very Shakespearean-- of course her dress is fabulously Shakespearean too, and I just had a blast playing all the emotion behind it, especially the scenes in her prison cell. Playing Sophia made me want to get back to the stage again, so I could play a great character like her.

Another role that stands out for me is Moe from Risky/Safety. This was AN Entertainment’s first release so we were really excited for that reason and the show overall, was very girly and fun. Wendee Lee directed the series and it’s always a great time working with Wendee, she’s one of the best in the biz and has personally taught me so much. Every time I work with her, I feel that I get better…that’s how good she is! You know that old analogy, if you want to get better at tennis, play with someone who is better than you? That’s how it is with Wendee. We tried to infuse that show with “middle school’ energy and bring out in my character Moe, the awkwardness and heartbreak of that age. It took me awhile to become solid in that character because up until then, I had played older teens. It was delightful to discover that “tween” energy and the show was just so darn cute. I also paid close attention to Mona Marshall’s portrayal of Yuya because I loved her boyish voice! When I recorded Episode 3, Mona had already recorded for Yuya, so that was a real treat. It helped me portray Moe in a more sincere way, plus the music was really touching in their scene. I was really happy with the way it came out.

FFOmake: It is kind of hard to explain, but whenever I hear your voice in an anime, I sense this feeling of sincerity and conviction in the way you deliver your lines. You also sound very believable, which makes the characters you play seem more natural and realistic; something that I find is essential when doing voice over work. Can you talk about some of the key things you keep in mind when you are preparing to voice a character? Like what are some of the things that go through your head when you step into a recording booth?

Julie Ann Taylor:
Thank you for your kind words. First of all, I have to say that I simply love acting! I love the challenge of trying to convey feelings and emotions through characters to influence the atmosphere. I also love playing around in the booth, doing two, three or four takes of the same line in different ways based on the direction. This process is so exciting for me…it’s like creating something unique with the director, sound engineer and even the other actors. Whether or not the other actors have already recorded before you or even if they are recording after you, you have to remember that your performance is always connected to the other characters or dialogue; although you typically record separately. This can really be a challenge and it kind of exercises a different muscle compared to when you are working together with a cast of people all in the same room.

Early on when I first started my career, I had a teacher who said, “Voice over isn’t about doing funny voices. If you don’t have the acting part down, your voice over work and the characters you portray won’t sound believable.” So I have always tried to focus more on the acting aspect, which came more naturally to me anyways. That same teacher also encouraged us to keep up our acting lessons, improv class’s etc-- anything to keep up our acting chops. I took that very seriously.

In the booth, I use whatever works for a character. Sometimes, I can just stand in a particular way or hold my hands in a certain way to quickly find a character. But for more intense emotions or scenes, you really have to strongly imagine what it’s like for the character, the conditions in which they find themselves, and make the appropriate choice. You have to be able to access all that on the spot. Some days I can do this better than others, but for me stepping into the booth is like a breath of fresh air. I know I can just play around and have total creative freedom within the recording takes.

FFOmake: Paradise Kiss, we have to talk about Paradise Kiss. This show has been such a pleasure for me to watch and to be honest I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. It is definitely one of the strongest anime titles I have seen in recent years. The English dub for the series really blew me away; I thought that Stephanie Sheh did an unbelievable job directing it. Stephanie conveyed to me in the interview I did with her, that Paradise Kiss was a highly anticipated title so I would assume that expectations were high when work began on the English dub. You were cast as the protagonist in Paradise Kiss, Yukari Hayasaka. How did you feel about being cast in that role? What were your thoughts going into working on Paradise Kiss?

Julie Ann Taylor:
To be honest, I didn’t really know about the original Paradise Kiss manga or the following it had inspired. I wasn’t aware that it was such a highly anticipated title. In some ways, I think that was a good thing though, because it would have made me feel very nervous or pressured going into recording the dub. I was really looking forward to working with Stephanie. She did a great job-huh?! Being cast as Yukari was exciting for me, but it did take me a little bit of time to “find the character.” Stephanie told me from the start, that she really wanted all the characters to be played more real and less cartoon-y…. I shared her belief that the dialogue ought to come across very natural, so I went for more understated choices. It was a challenge though because there are some really funny and overtly dramatic moments in the show, which required something more. I felt that we were able to strike a balance.

FFOmake: Yukari is a very strong female lead, and at its core, Paradise Kiss is her story of self discovery. The show had its cartoony moments, but I was impressed at how sincerely the human drama was portrayed in the show, I found it truly moving! Yukari was such a poignant character because as a viewer you could relate to and empathize with the hardships she encountered throughout the course of the story. Can you please share some of your thoughts and feelings about Yukari?

Julie Ann Taylor:
Yes! I could relate to Yukari and all the mixed emotions and feelings that surface when you’re not a girl anymore, but not quite a woman yet. I could especially relate to how she behaved towards her overbearing mother-- although my mother was not overbearing, I do remember times when I desperately wanted to be independent, but I still needed her in some ways. That time in life produces extremely complex emotions for young girls. Sometimes in the booth, I would just cringe, thinking, oh no, what is going to happen next?…or no, don’t lie to your mother that way, you’re going to get caught! I could also relate to Yukari’s journey of meeting an entirely different group of people and feeling insecure, not knowing who to trust, but still being thoroughly intrigued with their lifestyle and wanting to be a part of it.

FFOmake: Yukari’s life changes when she meets the egotistical playboy, George Koizumi. Their relationship in Paradise Kiss provides for some very intense and entertaining moments. As I was watching the show I realized some very important things about these two lovebirds; Yukari’s naivety made her a glutton for punishment and George’s detached attitude made him an asshole at times. I found their relationship so fascinating; they have been one of the most enjoyable anime couples I have ever watched. Looking back at the show now, can you please tell us some of your thoughts on Yukari’s and George’s relationship?

Julie Ann Taylor:
I agree that Yukari’s naivety made her a glutton for punishment and often in the booth I would get so mad at her for staying with George, because he WAS such an egotistical jerk. That’s also a testament to Patrick Seitz and his performance as George! Patrick was really good and he usually recorded before me so I felt like I had something to play off of. I always felt that if George and Yukari ever got married, they would end up getting divorced because their relationship just seemed like one big train wreck. But of course it does make for interesting drama, especially with the tension between the two of them!

FFOmake: I read in an interview that you really liked the soundtrack for Paradise Kiss. The use of a Franz Ferdinand song as the ending theme to the show really struck a chord with fans. If you can recall, what was it about the music in Paradise Kiss that really appealed to you?

Julie Ann Taylor:
Well after some long recording sessions of working hard, I was always ready to rock out to “Do You Want To.” I would dance in the booth because that song just invited it. I went home and downloaded it off of iTunes. I also googled the song lyrics because I’m a total lyrics freak. I thought it was a great choice for the ending theme to the show, because the lyrics so perfectly fit George and Yukari’s relationship.

Parting Words:

I want to thank Julie Ann Taylor for taking the time to do this interview with Flash Frame Omake. If you are already a fan of Mrs. Taylor’s, that’s great! But if you have never heard any of her work, I hope this interview will encourage you to check out one of the many anime shows she has provided voices for. Volumes 1-3 of Paradise Kiss are now all available from Geneon Entertainment, so please go and pick those up, because Mrs. Taylor’s performance as Yuakri is literally a must hear!

Official Website: Julie Ann Taylor
Crystal Acids: Database of her work
Geneon Entertainment: Paradise Kiss

Interview conducted by: A-run Chey

Paradise Kiss DVD available at:

- September 9, 2007

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